May 20, 2012

North Rim & the Annular Eclipse

We were very fortunate to be only a few hours drive south of the annular eclipse path, so we loaded the car for a long day trip north towards Page, AZ. Our initial plans called for us to do some exploratory hiking in the slot canyons of the area, but K's feet have been acting up & there were permit issues. On to plan B. Neither of us had been to the north rim of the Grand Canyon and it wasn't too much farther along.

The north rim is typically open from May - October due to snow & low numbers of visitors. Luckily for us the rim road, route 67, had just opened for the season the Monday prior. Over the years I've probably made it to the south rim about 20 times, never disappoints, but the crowds can be a detractor. Welcome to the north rim, where visitors are measured in hundreds instead of thousands.

Before hitting Jacob Lake and the Canyon turnoff we stopped to stretch our legs at the Navajo Bridge that spans the Colorado River. What a sight! We spotted a dozen rafters beginning their journey down the mighty Colorado. We were then treated to the sight of 4 California Condors! Truly magnificent creatures.

Twin spans, one for vehicles one for people.

One condor coming in for a landing.

Hello No.2.

Has some battle scars.

Colorado River.

After the bridge we made our trek past the Vermillion Cliffs and up into the Kaibab Nat'l Forest. It still amazes me how fast the landscape can change in Arizona. The drive south down route 67 was really nice, wide open meadows encircled by tall pine trees.

Near Bright Angel Point.

Great sundeck at the Grand Canyon Lodge.

This would become our new farorite view of the canyon.

Lots of green in the canyon.

Mount Hayden.

Some of the side canyons.

Angel's Window.

Colorado River through Angel's Window.

Humphrey's Peak near Flagstaff, still a trace of snow up high.

Shadows begin to cast over Cape Royal.

We weren't the only ones up north for the solar show.
We left the canyon a bit later than we would have liked, but we were enjoying the views! Our new goal was to get out of the Kaibab and back down to the Vermillion Cliffs to watch the eclipse. We found a nice pullout with a historical marker on a long stretch of road - perfect! We settled in as the eclipse began. Keep in mind this was my first attempt at photographing the sun.
We would soon be parked down below the Vermillion Cliffs on the far right of the frame.

Our high-tech setup!

Faint sunspots can be seen on this one.

First glimpse of totality.

Muted daylight.

Long stretch of high desert..
All in all I am very pleased with the results. Homemade solar filter was a success! It had been a long time since we did a road trip, perhaps next time we'll stretch that 826 miles over a few days!!
Stopped by the Lee's Ferry turnoff, hopefully one day soon I'll have a good reason to drive down to the river.

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